Highlander's Captive

By: Donna Fletcher


Chapter One




“Where is Dawn?” Cree demanded so loudly that every warrior in the Great Hall turned silent and stared at him. He had not seen her since late last night when Sloan had come to their bedchamber to inform him that his sister Wintra had been abducted. He had ordered Dawn to bed and left before making sure she had obeyed him, something she rarely did.

He had been busy with plans to go after his sister and kill the idiot bastard who had unwisely abducted her. Thoughts of Dawn had drifted in and out of his mind throughout the night and he had imagined her tucked safely in their bed sleeping. But sunrise usually found her up and about, after they made love, which they did often, and was what he wished they were doing right now. Of course it would be a quick coupling, but no less satisfying. It never was with Dawn, even though she could not speak a word. It still amazed him that she had survived since birth, nineteen years, without being able to utter a sound. Not a peep, a squeak, or moan, could she manage. Nothing. Yet to him, he could hear her clearly in her gestures, even more clearly now that he was completely and madly in love with her—damn it.

He had never expected to fall in love. He had expected to take a wife and have her produce heirs. Love had never been a consideration. He had had no time for it. Yet this voiceless woman had stolen his heart and he didn’t want it back. It was hers to keep forever just as her heart—all of her—belonged to him. He growled low at his foolish musings. He had no time for them, though he wanted all the time he could get with Dawn, if he could find her. Where could she have gone off to? The snow was heavy on the ground and she should be careful, especially now that she was carrying their child.

“Damn,” he mumbled, a sudden thought disturbing him. What if she was in trouble and not able to call out for help? He scowled and this time shouted, “Has anyone seen Dawn?”

Heads shook, but no one spoke up.

Cree turned to Sloan. “You haven’t seen her?”

“Not since last night.”

“Find her,” Cree snapped, annoyed he had allowed so much time to pass without checking on her. He hoped that he worried needlessly and she was still abed. She could use the rest being with child, not that she would agree. She was always off somewhere, visiting, helping, disobeying him. “Find her,” he said again.

“Afraid you’ve lost her?” Sloan asked with a smile, which faded quickly when Cree’s dark eyes narrowed and his scowl deepened. Sloan turned and hurried off without saying another word. He knew Cree too well to know when to turn silent and retreat.

Cree looked over a small contingent of his warriors gathered in the Great Hall. He would take only twenty of his warriors for now, though it would be more like having fifty warriors compared to other fighting troops. His men were highly skilled, and they would follow him into hell if he asked, though they already had. Endless missions for the King had taken its toll on all of them, but at least it had not been in vein. Now, after constant toil of battle, they had what they had fought so long and hard for—a permanent home. A place they could always return to and where family and friends would welcome them back.

Now, unlike other times, he was reluctant to leave. Now he had Dawn, and she had been through her own hell with her true mother trying to kill her and, in the end, having to take her mother’s life to protect herself.

“Cree.”

The strong voice cut through his musings and had him turning his head to face Kirk McClusky, Dawn’s true father and a good man.

“We want to help,” Kirk said, “what can we do?”

“I appreciate your offer, but I would much prefer if you remained here at the keep and watched over Dawn, not an easy task I’m afraid.”

“She does have an independent nature, though as her father I don’t think that is a bad thing,” Kirk admitted with pride.

“You might want to think twice about that since she’s now carrying your grandchild,” Cree reminded.

“Good point. I’ll be sure to be extra vigilant.”

Cree was about to tell him that he would need to be when one of his warriors entered the room, stomping the snow off himself. “Snow has started falling again?” Cree asked as the warrior approached.

“Aye, my lord, and if we don’t leave soon, they’ll be no leaving today at all.”

Cree nodded. “Then we leave now.”

The warriors stood and filed out of the keep, not a one mumbling or complaining. They would do as Cree ordered and brave the winter storm to help find his sister.

Sloan hurried into the room. “I can’t find her and no one has seen her, perhaps she is annoyed that you are leaving and is letting you know it by not bidding you farewell.”

“That is not her way,” Cree said, knowing his wife would never be that petty. He worried that he would have to delay his departure to make certain his wife was all right, which could cost precious time in finding his sister.

Cree was never so relieved when a minute later Dawn entered the keep, throwing back her snow-covered hood and hurrying over to him. His heart hammered in his chest. She was so beautiful, though not in the common sense. Her features were plain, her nose a bit sharp, her eyes dark and her hair a deep red and straight, without a curl or wave to it. Yet she glowed with a rare beauty that caught his breath and stilled his heart. She was a head taller than most women, slender, with hips that curved perfectly and breasts that were barely a handful, but oh how he enjoyed them. She was—to him—perfect.

“Where have you been?” he demanded as she approached.

She smiled and pulled something from beneath her wool cloak, holding it out to him. She pointed to him and pretended to shiver, and then pointed back at the wool plaid and hugged herself.

“To keep me warm?”

She nodded as she drifted into his arms and snuggled against him. He was so warm and his body so hard. He was the epitome of a Highland warrior; strong, bold, and proud.

He lifted her chin and felt himself stir at the raw passion he always saw reflected in her eyes for him. “I would much prefer it be you who kept me warm.”

She tapped her chest, letting him know she felt the same and was unable to take her eyes off him. He was beyond handsome, not a single scar marring his beauty. Even his scowl, she had once thought perpetual, had lessened since they had fallen in love, but did not distract from his fine features. And how she loved his lips, such kissable lips that she forever wanted to taste.

“Damn it, Dawn, you know when you look at me like that I can’t resist kissing you.” And he knew if he did that he’d pay for it, but the hell with it, he kissed her anyway, and he damn well paid for it. He grew too hard, too fast. It didn’t matter, though, it was worth it. Their kiss was as hungry as always, and if he had time he would take her quickly so that the scent of her would be on him and he could breathe deeply of it every time he thought of her. But then that would be constantly.

After reluctantly ending their kiss, he whispered, “I will miss you.”

Dawn patted her chest, slipped her arms around his waist, and pressed her body firmly against his, then nodded and rested her head to his chest.

Sometimes her gestures spoke much louder than words. He hugged her, gave her one last kiss, and then eased her away from him and walked out of the keep without looking back. Sloan followed closely behind him.

“He would take you with him if he could,” Kirk said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Dawn nodded and wiped away the single tear that lingered in the corner of her eye. She then patted her chest, brought her hands together as if in prayer and rested them against her cheek.

“You’re tired and want to rest,” Kirk said, easily understanding her gestures. “Yes, you should rest and later we can sit by the fire and talk.”

Dawn smiled and nodded and placed a kiss on his cheek.

Kirk grinned when she stepped away. “I am so very glad that I found you, daughter, and I am glad we will have some time alone to talk and get to know each other even better. Now go rest and I will see you later.”

Dawn turned and walked slowly, as if heavily burdened, to the steps and took them unhurriedly, until out of sight. Once no one could see her, she flew up the steps, hurried to her bedchamber and gathered the few items she needed. She then carefully retraced her steps, watching to make certain no one saw her. She wanted everyone to assume she was sleeping. This way she wouldn’t be disturbed for hours, and it wouldn’t be until much later that someone discovered her gone.

She crept through the keep, staying to the shadows so she would not be seen. She hadn’t enlisted anyone’s help with her plans for fear that Cree would punish them. She would be responsible for her own rash actions, though to her, her plan made perfect sense. She would join her husband, though she would not make herself known until they were far enough away from the keep so that he could not send her home.

The decision had been an easy one, especially after she had seen how upset Cree had gotten when Sloan had told him that Wintra had been abducted. It was then she understood that he would not return home until he found her, and while she was confident that he would be successful in his quest, it was how long it would take that worried her.

She wanted him there with her as his child grew inside her. He would keep them safe and he would help assuage her fears that the child might be born voiceless like her. It was her greatest fear that she would pass her affliction onto their child. She prayed every day that the child would scream loudly when he slipped out of her. If not?